Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Run away from the blogosphere

I try to keep off blogs on the whole as they are like crack cocaine for me. But today Alex referred me to a right-wing website which I had to then look up for work (they were having a go at the Quakers for holding 'parties'/candelit vigils for the 2000 American dead in Iraq).

Obviously I got sucked into the trail. Blinking hell!! It's a minefield out there! I hadn't quite realised the high state of ideological warfare over in America and the sheer volume of anger and bile unleashed across cyberspace every second. I thought it was just Jess :)

I won't go back there for a while.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Still alive!

After all that fuss about buying a scooter, I never managed to post about actually having it till now. This was mainly because I wasn't too sure I was going to make it through the first week unscathed.

Well, apart from dropping it four times, heading the wrong way down a roundabout entry and generally fortgetting all the basic principles of road sense and steering, plus a drenching this morning, I'm pleased to report it's been nothing but plain sailing. I've even made it through pouring rain without skidding and dying. Scooters are brilliant - official.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More on the scooter saga

(or, another reason not to be a journalist)

I had a shockingly expensive insurance quote today, seemingly for being a journalist. Typical.

I have been wanting to do this for over 15 years, since the needles & knives made vetalisting (er, being a vet) impossible. I edited a newspaper for 100,000 students, but that never really seemed to count because we had no qualifications or much clue. Then I spent more time than any other British citizen being an intern, learning the craft from Harry (ha!). OK, so I didn’t want to be a journalist enough to revise enough for the law exams, but even so, happy was the day when I could fill in my first form with ‘occupation: journalist’ without feeling I was somehow pretending.

After all that, I now find it’s a risky profession.

‘Well, what sort of journalist are you?’ they asked, as I tried to reassure them I wouldn’t be using my scooter to investigate the crack dens of East London. ‘Well, I’m sort of a production journalist’, I said, feeling like I was pretending again. ‘I do layout and sub-editing and, er... I work for a religious magazine. It’s really very innocent. I don’t do any reporting really, except sometimes about Africa and I’m not planning to ride there on my scooter’.
‘Can we call you an administrator?’
‘Well, I suppose so’, I bristled, snobbishly. ‘My actual job title is Production Manager, as it happens’.
They perked up a little at that. But the quote was still nearly £1000, so they put me through to a cheaper competitor, the sort who deals with dangerous types presumably, with the advice ‘perhaps best to say production manager, not journalist.’


My scooter should be coming today! On the Euston Road a herd of shiny scooters zoomed past me this morning. I shall be one of them! (not on Euston Road, no).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Government by wiki

This is a new theme of governance-by-wiki. Having tested it on the intellectually superior Claire yesterday, I think it may be a bit too advanced to be accepted by society yet. But I’ll give it a go, if only to maintain my current blogging record

Party alignment had a point 200 years ago, when it was most practical for a few people – preferably rich because they had the ships - to rule the world on behalf of all the rest of us, but now that we have wikis, the whole concept of parties, left and right, group membership of any sort is outdated and pointless.

Group machinery is the root of most of the frustration, disappointment and evil in politics. On the other hand, networks of individuals working together to roughly the same aims are not constrained by the same controls, loyalties and bureaucracy that hamper political progress.

It has always been impossible for me to align myself with any party and I used to think that was because of my loyalty to journalistic neutrality. Now accepting that this isn’t true, I think that it’s more likely to be my discomfort with the shortcomings of groups. I find it unbearable when people tie themselves into knots over whether they should be working with this or that person or group because of a perceived set of beliefs and background. It’s no fun to think that I am lumped in with the same ‘British’ who invaded Iraq and throw chips at waiters in Spain and I see no reason why a friendly Conservative might be incapable of good, even if he is a Conservative. Basically, I think, everyone wants peace, security and opportunity, even if their means of getting it are different. If those aims are the basic principals that guide us, we can hammer out the detail to make sure our own interests aren’t detrimental to the interests of others and conflicts are resolved creatively instead of destructively.

Wikis make it possible for mass participation in decision making and consensus building. The common directive is Be Bold! and people are encouraged to make change instead of engage in tedious stonewalling. The results can be messy but also inspiring. They are a lesson in multiple truths and how different cultures and beliefs can come together if people are willing to work on it. Individuals are empowered to take action, instead of being blocked.

I found a website a couple of weeks ago that seemed to be promoting democracy by wiki, and now I’ve lost it. However, I’m sure I’m not the only one to have thought of this.

Monday, October 10, 2005

More purchasing madness

Why oh why oh why am I sitting in stinking Hanley bus station waiting
for a bizarre timetable to bring itself to pass?

There is good news! Not only am I now the proud owner of Lambretta shoes, I now have the scooter to go with it. Not a Lambretta, I hasten to dampen your excitement, but a fine silver Aprilia which will be delivered to me on Wednesday.

That means - no more buses! Those of you who quail at the idea of my daily journey have no idea of the irritation at the sheer stupidity of flying nearly 200 miles in little over an hour and a half in majestic red livery, followed by the agonising hour long shuffle to get the final 8 miles home. The tree kicking frenzy that sets in as you watch a stray 29 sail past as you wait at the cash machine behind hundreds of poverty stricken students preparing themselves for a night of hard graft in the union. The desperate uncertainty: was that a late 19.05 or - feckitpleaseno - an early 19.20? The daily seething irritation at the lack of thought that didn't go into timing a bus to arrive at a (fairly) major intercity station at the very minute a popular train is scheduled to leave. Integrated transport is but a tragically distant memory from a civilised, Oystery age. It's a form of madness, inflicted on the poor or carless of Stoke. Don't get me wrong, driving a car is pretty bad there too.

But no matter. Expect to see a new Clare, stylishly dressed in Italian tailoring, zooming at a high pitch along the speedy routes home (it'll get up to 75 mph, he said. Are you insane? said I) to the minimised pad in Burslem, where steaming pasta & goats cheese await. La Dolce Vita-on-Trent beckons.

Till it gets robbed, of course.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Twenties kicks

Yesterday the unthinkable happened and I became 25. Like Jess before
me, I pondered on the significance of passing a decade since what many
of my friends from the time consider our 'awakening'.
This was sharpened by an evening spent with the Undertones, whose
Teenage Kicks Chloe and I bought a while before we were 15 and which
is currently buried amongst the chaos of my belongings. The Undertones
were great and, being possibly twice my age, rounded off a much better
birthday than I anticipated.
The future will be the era of the supercity, the global society and
there's still 70 years of adventure, hopefully, before I even reach
the age of some of my magazine's most enthusiastic readers. Working
for Quakers is a great antidote to ageing.